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Basic FREE Lighting Setup For YouTube Videos

Looking for beginners guide in lighting setup for YouTube videos? Or searching for a YouTube lighting setup that is easy and FREE?

If you’re a business owner or entrepreneur and you want to really level up your video creating game then definitely keep it locked right here. In this post, I’m going to talk you through the basics of using daylight lighting to up level your production value, when it comes to creating video.

Tips when using daylight lighting

Let’s talk about lighting. This is super basic and this is about using the big light in the sky. So first up, face a natural source of light, i.e. a window. Face into the light. Natural daylight is really flattering. Cause obviously it wraps around your face and it’s just a very flattering light.

The thing not to do, absolutely not to do and we’ve seen this 1000 times on Zoom calls and everything else, is not to have the brighter light behind you. So, do not put yourself in front of a window and film that way because otherwise you’ll look like bat because effectively the camera will expose for the bright outside environment and you’ll become an anonymous shadow that looks like they’ve done something naughty or in some kind of witness protection scheme.

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Lighting setup

Look into the light. This is a nice little diagram which kind of hopefully will bring some clarity for you to what I’m talking about. You can see the little blue thing there is imagine that’s your view. And you either are looking straight into the green sunshine there through the window or if you going to use an artificial light say like a soft box or a ring light. That is where you’d put the artificial lights and you’d look straight in so that the light is falling directly onto your face.

The other thing to say as well is that you want to have as much separation between you and your backgrounds. Ideally what you want in a frame, and this is assuming by the way, that we are creating a talking head video.

This is a video that you going to shoot on your phone, that may be like an intro video to your business, something like that. So, we’re not talking about, shooting an interview with 40 people or creating some kind of whizzbang of music promo, I really am talking about building blocks here like the really starting small and then incrementally increasing the complexity of what we’re talking about. Okay, so this is very much designed for a talking head.

Imagine this is a video introducing your company, you could be talking about your why, why you do what you do, how you do it all of that kind of thing sort of an intro style video into your business. This is exactly the kind of setup that you would work very well for that. So, you need separation between you and the background. The whole point is that the focus should be on you. That’s where the story is. Therefore, you should be the brightest thing in frame firstly.

So, if you’ve got a bright background, which speaks to the point a couple of minutes ago where you knew you had a bright window, imagine if I had a light at the back here that was really bright. The first thing your eye will go to is whatever is brightest in frame. So always make sure you are illuminated more in comparison to the other bits of the frame.

Pitfalls to avoid when filming: the shadows

Now we’re on to talking about shadows. You need to be aware of where and this is obviously goes for both when you’re working with natural light but also when you’re introducing artificial light because every light source that you introduce will introduce obviously physics, another range of shadows. So, you need to be aware of that fact rather than just smashing in millions of different lights and hoping for the best, you’ll then be chasing your child trying to eliminate all the shadows that you’ve introduced by introducing all these different points of lights.

So, you just need to be aware of where the shadows are falling and therefore position your lights accordingly, because hard shadows are really distracting. And again, it comes back to that point of your you’re wanting to give the viewer some really obvious cues as to who their attention should be focused on. Ideally, the person who’s talking about what they’re talking about, anything extraneous whether it be a weird shadow across the face, whether it be noises off because your microphone’s not working properly or you’re using a rubbish mic, from the phone. And actually you can hear someone talking or clattering around in the background whatever it is that will all distract from the main event which is you or should be you communicating the value that you are wanting the audience to benefit from. The other thing as well is ceiling down light. Is there an absolute nightmare?

So, if you’re in a room where there there’s a window but you forget to turn off the down lights as they create, they’re very, very directional lights, as you know. And if they hit your face, they’ll create hotspots and also very hard shadows going down the face that look very, very ugly. And obviously you’ll have a very sort of pronounced area of light and then next to it will be relatively dark. So, in terms of exposure as well on the camera, the camera won’t really know, do I expose for the light bit or the dark bit? It doesn’t really know what it’s doing.

So, my advice turn all the down lights is off you certainly won’t regret that decision. Make sure like a saying you’re the brightest thing in the frame, and also, like we said before a separation to avoid hard shadows like you can see in the bottom right there that’s obviously from a flash gun, but you get the idea the nearer you are to a wall, the more likely you are to be getting a hard shadow. So, step away from the background and keep that separation going.

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Final thoughts

I really hope you’ve got value from this post. To dive into more detail about how to create video for your business, do check out the other videos on our YouTube channel.

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